Monday Mornings with Madison

Block Out the “Noise” to be More Effective at Work

Word Count: 1,932
Estimated Read Time: 7 ½ Min.

Information overload is everywhere.  Social media posts.  Radio shows.  Streaming programs.  Emails.  Newspapers and newsletters.  Podcasts.  Magazines.  Billboards.  Blogs and vlogs.  What passes for news is mostly noise, blurring the lines between editorial and advertising.  And every Tom, Dick and Harry has now jumped on the content creation bandwagon to share their own unique voice and stories to the cacophony, even if they have nothing of real value to add.  Interruptions and distractions abound.  While technology has made it easier to get work done, it has also increased the amount of venues, vehicles and virtual people competing for your attention.  Most business professionals are inundated by this “noise”… the dings, pings and pops that signal that someone has something to ask or share.   We are encouraged to “multi-task,” which is actually a fiction that the human brain cannot do.

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Time Management and Parkinson’s Law

Word Count: 1,795
Estimated Read Time: 7 Min.

Time is fleeting.  Ask anyone (except perhaps someone in prison) and they are bound to agree that there is just never enough time.  Life is hectic and demands are forever increasing.  The pace of life and the demands on our time have risen exponentially.  While there are many scarce resources – money, water, arable land, metallic minerals, fish, sand, etc. – none is more finite, non-renewable and precious than time.  And, despite the multitude of time management tools proliferating in the marketplace – timers, alarms, calendars, time tracking software, organization tools, prioritization lists, etc. – time is still the hardest resource to manage because it is a perishable. After all, we cannot store or bank time. We cannot buy more of it or steal it from someone else.  And, while we all think we will get the same amount of this resource at the start of each day, there is no guarantee of that.  Every tombstone in a graveyard is a testament to that.  Some will get 24 hours today and some won’t.  And even if we do get 24 hours in a day, we can’t keep it or save it.  At best, we are forced to trade time for other things.  At worst, we fritter it away on nothing… which is the worst offense of all. Continue reading

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The War for Talent

Word Count: 1,807
Estimated Read Time: 7 Min.

Currently, U.S. companies (as well as businesses in other parts of the world) are having trouble finding enough skilled labor to meet demand.  In the U.S., there are several factors contributing to a rising war for talent.  First, the unemployment rate dropped to 4.6% or 7.4 million people in October 2021. That is down considerably from the high of 14.8% at the end of the February-April 2020 recession.  While it is still about 1% higher than the 3.5% rate prior to the pandemic in February 2020, unemployment is much improved.  It is expected to get down to 3.5% by end of 2022.  People are getting back to work.  And yet there continues to be a shortage of skilled workers. Continue reading

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The Power of Tiny Gains

Word Count: 1,630
Estimated Read Time: :6 ½ Min.

Why do some people and some companies do better than others?  They may start in the same place, but some thrive and grow while others stagnate or even wither.  Those that do well might think it is because they are exponentially better, smarter, or faster.  Those that don’t do well think it is because they are unlucky. They might say that “the rich get richer while the poor get poorer” and make it sound like happenstance or good fortune is the underlying cause.  But research has shown that what some think is “genius / talent” and others believe is “luck” may likely be neither.  More likely, it is just the power of accumulated advantage at work over time.  In business and life, it is invaluable to understand how and why the principle of accumulated advantage works. Continue reading

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Resolving Conflicts at Work, Part 2

Word Count: 1,454
Estimated Read Time: 6 Min.

Conflicts in the workplace are unavoidable.  If they go unacknowledged or dismissed as unimportant, conflicts can hurt morale and cause teams to become dysfunctional.  And conflict (with a boss or colleague) is a key driver of employee turnover.  But if conflicts are properly addressed, they can amplify a team’s effectiveness and solidify their unity.  When handled properly, conflicts can be harnessed for good.  Positively resolving conflict can boost team performance, increase cohesion, supercharge employee motivation, and redouble collaborative problem solving efforts.  It’s simply a matter of how conflicts are handled. Continue reading

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Resolving Conflicts at Work, Part 1

Word Count: 1,334
Estimated Read Time: 5 ½ Min.

Conflict is unavoidable in the workplace.  It is unavoidable because wherever there are people working, there is an opportunity for friction.  If left unresolved, these conflicts can turn into complaints, resentments, and feelings of ill will.  And that can spiral into a dysfunctional (inefficient / unproductive) workplace.  When coworkers do not get along, they are more likely to have trouble being efficient, meeting deadlines, solving problems and developing innovative solutions as a team.  Collaboration requires people to be able to get along, trust and respect one another, even if they don’t always agree.  If trust and respect are undermined by unresolved conflicts, it can affect their productivity, creativity and commitment to the team. Continue reading

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The Relationship between Happiness and Success

Word Count: 1,634
Estimated Read Time: 6 ½ Min.

In today’s business world, many believe that happiness is a guaranteed outcome of success.  “When I am successful, I’ll be happy.”  But if that were true, everyone who got a promotion would be happier.  Steve Jobs – the late founder of Apple, multi-millionaire, father and husband — would have been exceedingly happy if success increased happiness.  But that’s not always the case.  People who get promoted are briefly happy but that euphoria quickly wears off under the weight of responsibility in the new position.  Steve Jobs was a notoriously unhappy man.  And many successful people have been known to be very unhappy from artist Vincent Van Gogh to tennis legend Andre Agassi.   Clearly, success does not guarantee happiness.

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Appreciation: A Management Superpower, Part 2

Word Count: 1,574
Estimated Read Time: 6 Min.

Most managers think they know how to express appreciation to colleagues and direct reports.  And yet a recent employee survey indicates that 44% of workers had not had their manager express appreciation for their work EVER.  So either nearly half of all workers don’t deserve appreciation, or managers actually don’t know how to express appreciation in a way that is received and understood.

Part of the problem is that too many managers think a mere ‘thank you’ qualifies as appreciation.  But it is more than that.  Appreciation is an exchange between colleagues that connects great work with organizational purpose.  It is a powerful tool in which the person feels acknowledged and valued for the work they do and for the talents they possess.  It’s not just “what have you done for me lately”, but also “what do you bring to the table that is valuable to the organization.”  An employee that is with a company for more than six months should be someone the company values enough to deserve appreciation. Continue reading

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Appreciation: A Management Superpower, Part 1

The “your paycheck is appreciation enough” mantra that employers have recited in the past is passé.  Managers and business owners who still think money is the only thank you an employee ever needs may find themselves facing some major and growing business problems such as:  bad reviews on sites such as Great Place to Work, BuiltIn, Glassdoor and Indeed, an inability to recruit top talent, and high turnover.   And these days, being able to recruit, hire and retain the best talent is the most important business advantage there is.  In fact, it may be the only business advantage there is. Continue reading

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Forgiveness in the Workplace

Word Count: 1,333
Estimated Read Time: 5 ½ Min.

Most mid-sized and large companies offer employees training in a multitude of hard and soft skills.  Some of the topics commonly offered in corporate America training programs today include:  401(k)s; Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA); Attendance; Avoiding lawsuits: training managers on what not to say; Coaching vs. mentoring; Cross-training; Stress in the workplace; Diversity; Ethics; Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA); Financial wellness; Internet use; Online security; Performance problems; Public/private partnerships; Sexual harassment in the workplace; Violence and Toxicity in the workplace; Wellness; Whistleblowing; and Workers’ Compensation. Continue reading

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